It’s safe to say a sailboat is only as good as its sails when you consider that capturing the wind’s energy is the premise behind what sailors do to propel their boats in a forward direction. A good captain will trim those said sails to be as efficient as possible and the proper heading will help with overall performance, but the sail is the driving force of the boat. Continue reading →
The keel is a fixed appendage on the bottom of the hull that provides the sideways resistance needed to counter the force of the wind on the sails. The keel also carries ballast, usually iron or lead, the weight of which counteracts the force of the wind that causes a sailboat to heel, or lean over. On a modern boat, the keel is shaped in the form of an airfoil wing to generate lift, which helps it sail closer to the wind.
A keelboat is generally larger than 20 feet and can be as large as a megayacht at 200 feet. A boat smaller than 20 feet without a keel is referred to as a dinghy. A dinghy has neither a keel nor a ballast. To resist sideways movement it has a centerboard or a daggerboard that can be lowered or raised as needed.
Will This Sailboat Capsize?
Unlike a dinghy, a keelboat won’t capsize. In a strong wind, it may heel a long way over, but the ballast in its keel is designed to keep it from capsizing. In a dinghy, to resist heeling you would use live ballast – the crew sitting out on the edge of the boat to counter the effect of the wind.
Smaller keelboats are often used in sailing instruction as these boats are small and responsive enough to provide the new sailor with the feel and feedback important when learning, but big and stable enough to carry an instructor and students in comfort.
ASA created a quiz a while back with one of the questions having to do with heaving to. Surprisingly, many people got the answer wrong, which led us to believe not everyone is out there heaving to! In fact, maybe they’re out there not even knowing what it means to heave to. So let’s go over it..
To heave to is to park the boat while out at sea. It’s mainly a heavy weather defense strategy but some people use the tactic to delay a harbor entrance for morning light, fix something or possibly just to have a little lunch at sea. As an example of how effective heaving to can be to endure through heavy weather, 26 sailors hove to in the infamous Fastnet Race where 18 people died in a horrific storm – none of those boats suffered any serious damage, let alone rolled or capsized.
Heaving to is setting the sails so the jib wants to sail one way while the main wants to sail another so, with some rudder adjustment, the boat stands nearly still.
It’s not hard but it does take a bit of practice to master. Here’s how it goes – this is more of an overview, to get the good stuff check out the full description in the textbook and watch the video below.
To lie on the tack opposite of the one you’re on, sheet the jib in tight, tack and leave the jibsheet cleated. As the boat passes through head to wind, the jib, held by the windward sheet, will set aback and push the bow downwind. Hold the mainsheet on the winch with its clutch open.
Now steer the boat back toward the wind and make adjustments with the helm and the mainsheet until the boat is lying at a steady attitude to the wind on a close reaching heading. Normally, the wheel would be turned to windward. The mainsail might or might not need to be luffing.
ASA TIP: How an individual boat heaves-to is a a function of many factors; design, keel type and relative sizes of the jib and mainsail are just some of them. So it might take a little practice and adjustments to figure it our for your boat.
Get ready to get your learning on! The crew of ASA, in association with Cruising World magazine and Beneteau Yachts, has finished shooting a series of educational videos called “Docking Made Easy”. It’s in the editing room now but soon will be available to teach you how to bring that baby in for a nice soft landing. We’ll keep you posted! Photo Pat Reynolds.
In 2014, ASA will release Bareboat Cruising Made Easy, the latest in our line of cutting-edge sailing books. But before the book can be published, we need to find the perfect cover photo.
We’re leaving no stone unturned in the search for the best photos depicting the bareboat cruising lifestyle, and we want our members & fans to be in on the fun! We have room for one outstanding photo on the front cover and several photos on the back cover. Do you have a fantastic charter photo that you’d like to see grace BCME? Then send it our way, and you never know what could happen!
Should your photo be chosen for the front or back cover, you’ll receive photo credit, a free copy of the book, and your work will be immortalized on a book that thousands and thousands of sailors will use!
Some guidelines to keep in mind:
Vertical shots preferred (horizontal may work, though)
Should depict the fun lifestyle of bareboat chartering
Should feature a sailboat
People having fun in the shot strongly preferred
You must own the photo or have the right to give it to us (See official rules below for details)
High resolution, preferably portrait size (Minimum 2 MB file size)
If you have a great chartering photo that fits this description, it could be the one we’re looking for.
ASA’s series of instructional sailing books set the industry standard. The series begins with Sailing Made Easy, the accompanying text to our ASA 101 Basic Sailing course, and continues with Coastal Cruising Made Easy, which addresses more advanced navigation and sailing skills from ASA 103. These books were called “best in class” by Sailing Magazine and are some of the most popular sailing guides on the market.
Bareboat Cruising Made Easy will accompany ASA 104, one of our most in-demand courses. ASA 104 is the Bareboat Cruising certification level, a credential that is recognized around the world and allows you to skipper your own charter boat. For many sailors, a bareboat charter in the Caribbean or Mediterranean is the ultimate sailing goal, and ASA 104 is a big step toward making it happen.
How to enter: Post a photo on the American Sailing Association’s Facebook timeline with a brief description. Or, email your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Multiple submissions are allowed.
By submitting a photograph to ASA for the purpose of the cover photo search for Bareboat Cruising Made Easy, you agree to the following:
In consideration of my engagement as a model and/or photographer I do hereby voluntarily authorize and give permission to THE AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION to the exclusive use of: photographs, video and digital reproductions in any form of my person or personal property. In submitting my photography, I certify that I have the right to grant, and do grant, THE AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION permission to reproduce and use it in perpetuity.
They will be used for the promotion of THE AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION and FINDMYCHARTER.COM. Uses include, but are not limited to: books, ads, brochures, publications, media broadcasts, the ASA website, and educational materials.
Through entering the ASA 30th Anniversary Photo Contest, I hereby grant, release and assign to THE AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION any and all claims of right whatsoever in and to all photographs or printed materials of the undersigned.
I hereby give all clearances, copyright and otherwise, for use of my likeness and the likeness of any person depicted in the photograph submitted, in ASA promotional materials. I expressly release and indemnify AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION and its officers, employees, agents and designees from any and all claims known and unknown arising out of or in any way connected with the above granted uses and representations.
There are many sailing books on the market, but if you read them all you’d never have time to actually, you know, go sailing. This blog will give you the 411 on the books ASA offers so you can decide if they’re right for you. (Spoiler: If you want to go sailing for fun, they are.)
First, a little history. The grandfather of sailing textbooks is Nathaniel Bowditch’s massive 1802 doorstop The American Practical Navigator, whose comprehensive chapters cover not only piloting, dead reckoning, and seamanship, but also such obscure topics as “Geodesy and Datums in Navigation,” “Hydrography,” and “Ice Navigation.” Worthy subjects all, but perhaps not of the foremost importance to the average modern-day sailor.
If you discover that the subtleties of navigation and seamanship are your life’s passions, then you will certainly want to dig into Bowditch, along with Chapman Piloting & Seamanship and Dutton’s Nautical Navigation, spending many happy hours in the hammock with a rum and coke reading about azimuths and depth sounders. All kidding aside, most people who are trying to balance a love of sailing with family, friends, work, and the rest of life just don’t have time to read and absorb thousands of pages.
That’s where we come in. Those pioneering works laid the foundation for ASA’s sailing books, which distill the wisdom of the ages into a manageable format designed to get you on the water safely, confidently, and quickly. Our full color displays, diagrams, and photos portray the concepts visually, while the writing, by some of the top sailing writers in the business, is accessible and clear. We take the mystery and uncertainty out of sailing by showing you exactly how a sailboat works, how it interacts with wind and water, and how you, the captain, take charge of it all.
SAILING MADE EASY
WHO’S IT FOR?
Everyone. Beginners, those who need a refresher, or the grizzled salt who wants to have it handy as a reference. Sailing Made Easy is our keystone sailing textbook, covering all the basics you need to know to safely skipper a medium-sized keelboat (20-30 feet). It is the companion to ASA 101, our introductory course, which thousands of people take at our sailing schools around the world each year.
All the fundamentals of sailing. This includes the parts of a boat, what to bring with you when you sail, how you make the boat move, how you get it to and from the dock, and how to avoid hitting anything (including, but not limited to, other boats, underwater hazards, and the land). Beyond that, it also discusses the finer points of trimming your sails, slowing down and speeding up, and anchoring and mooring, among other things. Quite simply, this book sets the industry standard, which is why Sail Magazine named it “best in class.”
WHO’S IT FOR?
Those who are familiar with the material in Sailing Made Easy, and are ready to deepen their knowledge and expand their sailing horizons a bit. This book accompanies ASA 103 – Coastal Cruising, a crucial link in the ASA curriculum from basic daysailing to cruising and chartering in exotic locations.
This book builds on the skills you’ve learned in Sailing Made Easy, now heading a bit further out from shore. You’ll learn about tides and currents, weather forecasting, more advanced seamanship skills, among other things. The book is water-resistant and organized into two page “spreads,” with each spread covering a single topic, which makes it useful not just at home but out on the water, too.
Buy Coastal Cruising Made Easy here. CRUISING FUNDAMENTALS
WHO’S IT FOR?
Those who have gotten comfortable sailing coastally and want to serve as their own bareboat charter captains. In other words, if you want to go on a sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands, the Mediterranean, the Pacific Northwest, or anywhere else, this is the book you need. It accompanies the extremely popular ASA 104 – Bareboat Cruising.
Not only are the sailing skills covered that you’ll need to cruise for a week or two through paradise, but also the practical knowledge of how a bareboat charter works. We offer instruction on how to prepare your charter boat before leaving, the “rules of the road” at sea, and operating vital equipment such as the VHF radio. Sail Magazine says, “Everything needed to make the first weeklong liveaboard cruise in safety and comfort is here.”
Mark Twain once said: “The man who does not read books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” And so it goes for sailors. In addition to hands-on training and practice, one of the best ways to prepare yourself for life on the water is to read and study great sailing books. So, as an alternative to the rest of the summer reading lists out there, we’ve compiled this one for sailors.
A great place for any aspiring sailor to start is with ASA’s top-of-the-line textbooks, which are expertly written, laid-out, and illustrated with world class photography and diagrams:
These books are included when you register for your sailing class with an ASA affiliated school, and the school will send them to you. Many of our members highly recommend reading the book before you take the class, as it will give you a solid foundation and help you get up to speed once you’re actually on the boat! Your instructor can provide more details.
For the more advanced sailor, classic manuals like Nathaniel Bowditch’s The American Practical Navigator and Chapman Piloting & Seamanship are time-tested and packed with useful information. However, these sailing books are so thorough that they can be a bit overwhelming to the novice.
Don’t forget–there’s more to the sailing lifestyle than practical manuals. There’s also a rich tapestry of lore, culture, and adventure to explore. We’ve compiled a list of some of the great nautical books of all time. These are guaranteed to expand your appreciation for sailing and the open ocean, especially when read under the bimini on a relaxing Caribbean afternoon!
Fiction Books: The Mutiny on the Bounty Trilogy by Charles Nordhoff & James Norman Hall (first volume 1932) The Aubrey/Maturin Novels by Patrick O’Brian (series of 20; first volume 1969) Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome (series of 12; first volume 1930) The Horatio Hornblower Novels by C.S. Forester (series of 11; first volume 1937) Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851) Middle Passage by Charles Johnson (1990) John Dollar by Marianne Wiggins The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952) Jaws by Peter Benchley (1974) Sounding by Hank Searls (1982) Mutiny on the Bounty by John Boyne (2008) A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes (1929)
Nonfiction Books: Close to the Wind by Pete Goss (2000) Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz (2002) Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum (1900) The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby (1956) The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float by Farley Mowat (1969) Sea Change by Peter Nichols (1998) Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana (1840) Ten Degrees of Reckoning by Hester Rumberg (2007) Looking for a Ship by John McPhee (1990) Godforsaken Sea: Racing the World’s Most Dangerous Waters by Derek Lundy (1998)
2010 has been a year of drama on the high seas, and one of change and excitement for ASA. Here’s a rundown of some of the big news from the past year:
TOP SAILING STORY OF THE YEAR: Abby Sunderland
Nothing else in the maritime world even came close to equaling the notoriety (and controversy) of this 16-year-old Californian sailor’s odyssey. Sunderland departed from ASA’s home port of Marina Del Rey, CA in January, attempting to become the youngest solo circumnavigator ever (a record previously held by her older brother Zac). She successfully rounded Cape Horn, but on June 10, in the stormy Indian Ocean, she lost radio contact, and shortly afterward activated her emergency beacons. It was widely feared that she was lost at sea. However, she was found alive and well by a search & rescue aircraft and retrieved by a French fishing vessel on June 12. The event sparked a massive debate in the media and among sailors about the wisdom of this, and other, similar, world record attempts, as well as who should be responsible for the cost of the rescue, estimated to be between $200,000 and $300,000. Sunderland has been criticized as reckless by some, and praised for her courage and fortitude by others.
For her part, Sunderland is undeterred and has stated her desire to attempt another circumnavigation in the near future. She also has a book about her experiences due out in 2011, and apparently there is a documentary in the works (just announced today). (ASA’s Meghan Cleary covered the incident as it happened here and here.)
OTHER NOTABLE STORIES: The Gulf Oil Spill, Laura Dekker embarking on circumnavigation at age 14, Jessica Watson completing solo circumnavigation at age 16.
BIGGEST NEWS FOR ASA MEMBERS: Sailing Made Easy and ASA Social Media
In March, ASA released Sailing Made Easy, the official textbook for ASA 101, the Basic Keelboating course. A great deal of effort and expertise went into creating this book, a full-color introduction to the essential skills and lifestyle of sailing. It’s an indispensable manual for new sailors and a handy reference even for experienced salts, featuring beautiful photography from Bob Grieser and edited by sailing legend Peter Isler. Heck, it even has waterproof covers. (Available through our store.)
2010 also saw the emergence of ASA’s Social Media Gateway. Meghan Cleary was brought on as our first Social Media Coordinator and got us off the ground. In October Meghan moved on to become ASA’s writer-at-large and, more importantly, to cruise the tropics in her 35′ cutter Velella. I (Ben Miller) replaced her and it’s been a blast getting to know ASA members and immersing myself in the sailing lifestyle (even if most of that immersion has taken place in an office). My New Year’s Resolution? To get out on the water with ASA! (You can find my “Introduction” post here.)
NOT TO MENTION: The launch of the ASA iPhone App, flotillas to a number of alluring locales, and our ever-increasing membership, to whom we want to say a huge THANK YOU!
WHAT DOES 2011 HAVE IN STORE?
Short answer: Who knows?
ASA certainly has a number of exciting projects in the works, including the continued expansion of our Local Sailing Clubs, more fantastic flotillas, and other things I’m not even at liberty to talk about yet! My personal goal is to get as many people as possible press-ganged into our scurrilous crew on Facebook and Twitter, in addition to reading this blog.
However, as all sailors know, the true adventure often lies in the things you can’t plan. So here’s to 2011 and the mysteries it may hold. We’re crowding sail toward the horizon, and very glad you’re with us.